Cardio is an over-rated way to burn belly fat, lose cellulite, and shrink your thighs. Research shows that interval training is a better way to burn belly fat, lose cellulite, and shrink your thighs.
If you want to lose belly fat, you should do lots of crunches. And if you want to shrink your thighs, you should reach for your ThighMaster. Right?
Wrong on both counts. Instead, you need interval training for fat burning.
This is a form of short-burst exercise that I’ve been using with clients since 1998 – long before the average trainer jumped on the bandwagon. In fact, when I first started writing about interval training back in 2000, no one believed that it was good for fat loss. Heck, I still have a hard time convincing people today…but when they finally try it, they love it!
So here’s the research proof.
In one study, Australian researchers from the University of New South Wales put three groups of women through a 15-week fat-loss exercise program. One group was a control group. Another group did three sessions of intervals per week (20 minutes per workout). And the third group did three sessions of long, slow, boring cardio (40 minutes per workout).
Forty-five women were in the study – and it is important to note that they were not all overweight. On average, they had a healthy body mass index of only 23.22 (well below the cut-off of 25 that signals overweight).
At the end of the 15-weeks, only the interval-training group showed significant weight loss and a decrease in body fat and trunk fat. The interval-training group also had a significant loss of fat from their legs. And the more overweight a subject was, the better the interval-training program worked for her.
Oh, and did I mention that the slow, boring cardio workouts did NOT result in a significant loss of body fat? Something I’ve been saying for a long time now…
You can do interval training with machines, or outside, or on your bike. It’s simply a period of “harder-than-normal” cardio followed by very light exercise. (Make sure to do a warmup first). You’ll repeat this hard-easy pattern up to 6 times. I don’t think you need to do more than that.
Then finish with a cool down. Your hard exercise interval should last 10-60 seconds, and your easy rest interval should last 2-3x’s as long. Always start conservative and don’t do too much too soon.
Do interval training 3 times per week. Four at the most. You need some days off. On your days off, stay active, have fun, but don’t stress about what you do. It doesn’t mean you have to be in the gym doing a cardio workout. In fact, dare I say, you might never have to do traditional cardio again!!! This is a great new for most folks.
So if you want to burn belly fat and lose a few inches from your thighs, get started on a short, 20-minute interval-training program done three times per week. That’s all you need.